Dear Editor: In your editorial of April 14, “Take The High Road” you suggest opposition parties not challenge the newly-elected leader of the PC party in an anticipated byelection for pragmatic and altruistic reasons.
That position is shared by other media as both David Cochrane of CBC’s On Point and Don Bradshaw of NTV have mentioned the same to me in casual conversation.
Considering these positions were put forth prior to Mr. Barry withdrawing from the race, I anticipate the media will encourage good public debate on whether or not that position remains our best option.
Here is my contribution to such a debate. The pragmatic reasons to let a byelection go uncontested is financial. The general public sees the words “politics and wasted money” as one and the same. Politicians should respect and heed that sentiment.
The altruistic reason (the cover story for what is actually a pragmatic reason — see above) is — when a newly-elected leader of a party needs a seat in the house and the acquisition of said seat will not change the balance of power in the house, the other parties defer and allow the new leader the opportunity to prove (or not) themselves before the general election.
In 1990, Jean Chretien was elected, in a contested leadership race, to lead the Liberal party. Mr. Chretien was a proven politician with whom the public had a relationship. He became leader of the party and the official opposition. His uncontested seat did not also give him leadership of the country. There are other examples where this courtesy was extended — none of which (that I can find) gave the politician uncontested leadership of a government.
Mr. Coleman is about to become leader of the governing party and has been made so by an insider group of his own party. If the opposition parties allow Mr. Coleman to gain his seat by acclamation he will be the premier.
A person with no political experience, who has not engaged the public in policy debate will direct our province, by default.
This is simply — bad public policy. It has nothing to do with Mr. Coleman, the same could be said for a Mr. or Mrs. Smith who landed in the same star alignment. The PC party, sadly and seemingly, still controlled by Mr. Williams, ostracized Mr. Barry and by doing so, destroyed its only chance at a fair and democratic leadership race which could have given the people of Newfoundland and Labrador an opportunity to see what Mr. Coleman is made of.
That ship has sailed.
If the PC party chooses to call a byelection and the opposition parties defer to the insiders choice for premier we will, in effect, be saying the democratic rights of the people of Humber East, indeed the whole province, are inconsequential.
We are at a pivotal point in politics: transparency, engagement, honesty, listening are words falling out of every politicians mouth because the public is demanding it. If we allow an unknown politician to gain leadership of our province, uncontested, we will demonstrate we are deaf to voteres who are sick to death of backroom politics. The pragmatic and responsible thing for the PC party to do is, skip a byelection and go straight to a general election.
Let the people of Humber East decide who will represent them. If they elect Mr. Coleman, then democracy is served. We should all demand nothing less.
Donna Thistle, Steady Brook